Fear For Families Struggling In Villages

Vulnerable people on housing benefit could be forced to move if a cut in benefit goes ahead.

The government plans to cut housing benefit by an average of £13 a week to anyone who has a spare bedroom in their social housing.

The so-called Bedroom Tax would affect about 28 per cent of claimants in Devon and Cornwall.  That's about 30,000 people across the South West. They'd lose 14 per cent of benefit for one room and 25 per cent for two.

 The government reckons it'll save around £490 million. 

But James Menzies, Head of Social Housing at the solicitors Stones, the concept will fall short in practice, potentially victimising thousands of vulnerable individuals in the South West. 

He said: In some instances the spare room is not a spare room at all: it may be used by a carer who stays overnight, or by a disabled tenant to store the equipment they need to live their lives. There are people in genuine need who will be deemed to be under occupying their homes when, in fact, they are doing no such thing."

Our rural communities could also be very badly affected because it has not taken into account the reality of social housing in rural areas. He added: "Social housing in rural areas tends to be built for young families, and so have two or three bedrooms. The so-called bedroom tax indiscriminately penalises against the built-in flexibility of these units a young family may only have one child, and the need for one bedroom, when they move in but the likelihood is that over the years they will have more children and will need the extra space. But this is not the only problem: social housing in the countryside tends to be bigger, because it is designed to keep young families in rural communities. There is a dearth of smaller social homes which means little or no choice for people who are affected by bedroom tax and feel that, rather than have their benefit docked, they should downsize"

To hear more from James Menzies CLICK HERE